The House Representatives Committee on Health Institution on Thursday said it is aware of the havoc caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which makes it expedient to access deficit in the health sectors.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Pascal Obi from Ideato North/Ideato South Federal Constituency of Imo State said the bills for consideration will help find solutions to issues bedevilling the health sector.
The Bills are “A Bill for an Act to Establish Alex Ekweeme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, and for Related Matters (HB, 1325).”
A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal School of Medical Laboratory Technology (Science) Jos to provide for courses leading to the award of Diplomas and certificates in Medical Laboratory Technology and for Related Matters ( HB, 1421 )”.
“A Bill for an Act to Establish Federal Medical Center, Amagu Ikwo, Ebonyi State and for Related Matters (HB, 1326 ).
“A Bill for an Act to provide Establishment of Federal Collage of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Science, Islala Mbano, Imo State and for Related Matters (HB, 1642 ).
“A Bill for an Act to Establish Federal Medical Center, Bony, Rivers State and for Related Matters (HB, 963).
Hon. Obi while declaring the interactive session open said “these bills have tremendous value and importance for the wellbeing of Nigerians and the Health Sectors at large.”
“We hope you will make contributions that will help the House come up with a solution that will solve some of the challenges in the health sector,” He said.
The Minister of state Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora said, they are Some concerns we can’t shy away from.
Speaking from the ministry, the biggest problems are always being on funding, cost implications of implementing these proposals which you are presenting in form of bills are very important.
“These cost implications are necessary to take care of structures and equipment and most importantly is the issues of human resources”.
Momora said the cost of human resources is so important that without it infrastructure and equipment are useless. Crises in the health sector are caused by inadequate funding” He stressed.
He advised that in future before a bill or proposal is presented, such bills must be backed up with suggestions on how the proposal will be financed.
Secondly, he said “the majority of existing health institutions today are groaning under financial challenges” He added again that, during auditing carried out by the ministry, it was discovered that out of about 30,000 health institutions in the country today, only one third are functional and not fully functional in the true sense of it.”
“Another area we must look at and consider before establishing any health institution is issues of accessibility of water, renewable energy and transportation. You need all three for any health institution to function optimally.
“It is unfortunate today that malaria still remains the highest cause of mortality because of lack of basic amenities,” Mamora said.
He added that if the primary healthcare centres are functioning well with all basic facilities in place, most of the challenges in the health sector would have been addressed.
“Because these primary health sectors are not functional up to standard, that is why people rush to secondary and tertiary healthcare institutions which is why the places are chalked up.
Of the five bills, two are established in nature, with the minister suggesting that the one seeking the establishment of Alex Ekweme Teaching Hospital requires an amendment to the existing Act to accommodate it.
“For the establishment of the federal college of nursing, midwifery and health services Isiala-Mbano Imo State, the ministry does not have issues with its establishment provided it is accredited, but it should be upgraded to a degree-awarding institution,” the minister added.
Some lawmakers however did not take some stands of the health minister likely, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante kicked against placing a ceiling on the establishment of health institutions, especially in disadvantaged regions like the South-South and the South East that are lacking in the area of the presence of tertiary health institutions.
Hon. Chinedu Ogah who sponsored two of the bills also took time to explain the importance of establishing tertiary health institutions in the Eastern part of the country, particularly in Ebonyi state which presently has none for now.
He appealed to the minister that he should ensure that the marginalized should be considered while sighting these health institutions.